A mechanical engineering professor who worked for nearly a decade in the automotive industry before joining Clemson University, where he has mentored dozens of students in the last 19 years, was elected Fellow of SAE International.

John Wagner said he was humbled to become a Fellow of SAE International, a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.

John Wagner, right, works in the lab with Ph.D. student Chengshi “Charles” Wang.

John Wagner, right, works in the lab with Ph.D. student Chengshi “Charles” Wang.

Fellow is the highest grade of membership and honors “long-term members who have made a significant impact on society’s mobility technology through leadership, research, and innovation,” according to the association.

“It is an honor to have been elected a Fellow of SAE International,” Wagner said. “I have been privileged to both work and teach in this rewarding engineering field.”

Wagner began his career at Delco Electronics in Kokomo, Indiana in 1989, just as fuel injection, anti-lock brakes and other electronic features were becoming standard on automobiles.

“There was great excitement, great growth in the industry and just a sense of cutting-edge technology,” he said. “I was able to work in that for almost 10 years.”

Wagner said he had the opportunity to work with excellent mentors at Delco Electronics and parent company General Motors, learning from and contributing to their activities.

Wagner then joined the faculty at Clemson University in August 1998, allowing him to work with students, while also continuing to do research.

“It was the best of both worlds at that point,” he said. “I was also able to maintain my contacts in the automotive community. I still have a good number of friends up in Detroit and around the world, based on those early years.”

Wagner said that his greatest accomplishment as a faculty member has been working with students and seeing them achieve their dreams.

Richard Figliola, acting chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, congratulated Wagner on being elected Fellow.

“Dr. Wagner is making exceptional contributions to education and workforce development,” Figliola said. “Students tell us he brings passion and practical automotive applications to the classroom. This is a well-deserved honor.”

Wagner is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME. He  participates in numerous professional organizations, including the the American Society of Engineering Education, IEEE and SAE.

Wagner has published numerous technical papers, presented research at many conferences and served on several committees.

He has established the multidisciplinary Mechatronics & Steering Simulator Research Laboratory and the Rockwell Automation Mechatronics Educational Laboratory at Clemson. Wagner served as an associate editor for several journals and as the chair of the ASME Dynamics Systems & Control Division Automotive & Transportation Systems Technical Committee.

Wagner does a range of research with various organizations, including the Clemson University Institute of Global Road Safety and Security, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Army, and Boeing Research & Technology.

He is also founding director of the Clemson University Product Lifecycle Management Center.